Thursday, May 31, 2012

Grandma's Place - Saved by (Living) Dolls



The following May 22, 2012, scans of page 36 of New York Daily News were shared by Romona J., whose mom shared them with her.

Click to enlarge the second image to read the interesting story of two angels who are giving back to their community by helping Harlem toy and doll shop owner, Dawn Harris-Martine keep her doors open for business.




The news article text can also be read in its entirety here.

Grandma's Place (listed on the Taste of Harlem website) is located at:
84 West 120th Street
near Lenox Avenue
New York, NY 10027
212-360-6776
Website:  http://www.grandmasplaceinharlem.com/index.html

Thank you Romona J. for the share! I appreciate you.


dbg

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Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Philadelphia Black Doll Show Recap, Vendor's Perspective


Real, life-sized doll photographed at a  past Philadelphia International Black Doll Show and Sale
The following recap (first paragraph below) was posted to my online doll group by Linda Hayes who was a vendor at the May 26, 2012, 23rd International Black Doll Show and Sale in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.  Linda granted permission for me to share her recap here.  When asked if she would like to add additional comments, she elaborated on the show even further (see subsequent paragraphs).

Hi All,

Just a note to say the the doll show was great! I am blessed to have done pretty good in doll sales! My tables were consistently busy. I had a lot more men buying from me this year. And alas, I finally sold TUPAC, SLADE and DR. J! There were a lot of photos taken of us, so hopefully I will get them soon. I always forget to take pics myself. And Debbie, I had your books out as usual, mostly for reference, and got a lot of requests. I directed them to order online. It was nice to see my old customers coming back from all over the country. Some folks didn't recognize me because I lost 25 lbs. and do look a little different especially since I cut off my dreads.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
I would like to add the following. When I arrived, I was a little surprised to see that there were fewer vendors this year. But after the shock, I was too busy to even care. We had a pretty good turnout. I was busy most of the day. But, I personally brought TOO MUCH this time! I always try to do a different spin, so to speak, because I like to excite my loyal buyers. This time, I brought with me two additional smaller tables to accommodate the overflow. My focus this show was on doll furniture. I had every type of chair, from a hanging wicker basket chair from the 70s to wood/rush seat, wood/straw seat, solid block wood rockers, a large Kingstate black/white zebra striped divan, to a solid wood Barbie-size roll top-type desk! I also had my usual celebrity dolls, this time with added Tiger Woods, Shaq, Obama Hope doll, and Star Trek Samuel L. Jackson Windu. Also the usual Barbies, with added PopLife, and Kimora Lee Simmons, to name a few. I also brought doll clothes. I set up one table with only celebrity dolls, entertainers with women first, then men, then sports figures, which were all men. It did my heart good to see so many men this year! Some were with their mates, others with their children, but all stopped at my table! If you could have seen the smiles of joy and curiosity on their faces as they checked out Run DMC, Tupac, Will Smith, Shaq, M.C. Hammer, etc., as if they were remembering special moments. Some were unconsciously saying out loud, "Oh Wow," "This lady got everything!"  Or, "What?" as if it was too hard to believe.

I also started a new policy. For ANY child that wanted to purchase ANY doll, I would give a $5.00 discount to encourage the practice of doll collecting and play with our young people. It went over well. The parents were very appreciative. I also lowered my prices even more on dolls that I could, because of the economy. But most of all, I really enjoyed the interaction with all my customers. From educating to celebrating the joy of collecting Black dolls.

My only disappointment was that I never got to really showcase my surprise addition, the West Indies World Championship 2007 male doll, which has over 30 points of articulation! But there's always the next show, which for me is the  Back Doll and Art Show in NY, on July 21, 2012. Hope I see you there.... Linda H.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Thank you for sharing this wonderful recap, Linda.  I am glad sales were successful for you and wish the same for you at the NY show on July 21, 2012.

To view images taken at this year's show and to read an attendee's overall show assessment, read D7ana's post, which is part 1 of her assessment, and Ms. Leo's post

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Sunday, May 27, 2012

LVII: Mother's Day and Birthday Doll Loot

For the past dozen or more years, my dearest doll friend and confidante, Debra R. has remembered my birthday with gift packages that always include dolls or doll-related items. She remembers me on other holidays, too.  I reciprocate by sending her gifts for these special occasions as well.  Debra gets a double hit during the month of May when Mother's Day and my birthday occur a few days apart. 

This year for Mother's Day, along with other non-doll related items, Debra sent me a doll that I had seen on eBay and thought seriously about bidding on.  For a now obvious reason, I just continued to watch the auction that was relisted at least twice before someone eventually purchased it.  Who knew that someone was Debra R. and that the doll was purchased for me?

Maypole Dance Wendy (aka Wendy's Maypole Dance) by Madame Alexander for Shirley's Dollhouse, 1994

Maypole Dance Wendy, part of my Mother's Day gift from Debra R., is a 1994 Shirley's Dollhouse exclusive made to commemorate the shop's 20th anniversary.  Shirley's Dollhouse, formerly located in Wheeling, IL., specialized in collectors dolls by Madame Alexander, Effanbee, Vogue and other prominent doll makers.  The store offered several shop exclusives made by these and other manufacturers.  One of the Caucasian versions of Maypole Dance Wendy is featured on page 164 of Linda Crowsey's book, Madame Alexander Store Exclusives and Limited Editions Identifications and Values (Collector Books 2000). According to Crowsey, "The doll was produced in three hair colors plus an African American version."  

All God's Children dolls, Anika III and School Girl Ann

For my birthday, Debra sent not one, but two dolls (not figurines) by Miss Martha Originals All God's Children:  Anika III with rocking chair and Ann, shown above.   According to this Worthpoint entry, Anika III came with a small book of praise.  The Worthpoint entry also shares Anika III's cute story.   Ann, a school girl complete with leather-string wrapped books and chalk board, is stamped 1998 on her back.  I have not determined Anika III's year of issue.

 AGC figurines, which date back to 1985, were hot collectibles well into the 2000s.  Not a figurine collector, I never purchased any.  It was not until 2008 that I discovered the brand included jointed, 9-1/2 to 11-inch dolls made of resin with removable clothing and some with yarn hair.  This was the year Debra purchased my first AGC doll, Skating Anika.  In 2010, I purchased Blossom.  Issued in 1987, Blossom is said to be AGC's first doll.  With the two latest editions, thanks to Debra, I now own a total of four AGC's dolls. 

AGC figurines and dolls are very realistic looking and capture the essence and personality of many children that I either grew up with or with whom I have come in contact throughout my life.  It was not until I received Skating Anika and read her accompanying booklet that I realized my assumption about the artist's ethnicity was incorrect.  Miss Martha's story can be read here.  Additional (but not all) dolls can be linked to here.

Lizette became speechless after seeing the new fashions she received for "my" birthday.

In addition to the AGC dolls, my birthday loot from Debra included three Ellowyne Wilde-tagged dresses and a faux fur stole for her.  These lovely items were enclosed in a decorative, purse-shaped storage box. Lizette is looking forward to being redressed in her new separates.

My birthday card from Debra reads exactly how I felt on the day I opened the package she sent in honor of birthday LVII:

Special
Blessed
Loved
Celebrated

dbg

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Friday, May 25, 2012

Black on Black in Black

A phrase I remember that was used by my car-enthusiast brothers during the sixties was "black on black in black."  In car lingo this meant the entire car was black from the top (which was often made of vinyl) to the interior and exterior.  The two older brothers were more enthused about cars but all three loved them and loved foreign cars in particular.  The middle brother's first car was a yellow and white with black convertible top 1961 or '62 Nash Metropolitan, a car with a combination American-made body and British-made engine.  This car cost him a whopping $200.  It was used, but still, $200 for a whole car that was still operational?

After placing HeadPlay's Will Smith on a TTL T2.0B body and dressing him in black shirt, tie, suit, socks, and shoes, and using my standard black velvet backdrop for his photographs, I remembered my brothers' phrase:  black on black in black.  In this instance it means black clothing on an African American or black playscale male photographed in a black background.

HeadPlay's Will Smith on a TTL T2.0B body dressed in all black



According to many of the 1/6 scale females here, he looks seriously good dressed or undressed in any color or background.

Of note, the real Will Smith is currently starring in the trilogy, Men in Black 3.  If I replace my playscale Will's black shirt with a white one and add sunglasses I could almost recreate the actor's MIB look. 

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Wednesday, May 23, 2012

My Scene Madison and Westley Experience

When Mattel's My Scene dolls were released in 2003, I purchased Madison #1 (box date 2002) and included her descriptive information in chapter 3 of The Definitive Guide to Collecting Black Dolls, as shown in the image below. 
My Scene Madision ©2002 Mattel, 2002

I was initially quite enthused about these 12-inch dolls with slightly over sized heads and chunky foot-shoes worn over their actual Barbie-size feet.  Later, I purchased other My Scene Madison dolls for myself and for little ones as gifts. 

My second Madison, Spring Break ©2002, came with a CD featuring Mya and four other artists.  This doll along with Club Birthday Madison and Stylin' Friend (©2004 for both) are featured in chapter 3 of Black Dolls A Comprehensive Guide to Celebrating Collecting and Experiencing the Passion(At the previous link, scroll down from page 127 to 128 to view the Madison entries.)

In November 2005,  I wrote an online article about a close friend's granddaughter's My Scene collection.  Read it here

My enthusiasm with My Scene dolls ended as abruptly as it began for a couple of reasons.  My interests in a wide variety of dolls serves to more than adequately fuel my doll-buying urges.  Because My Scene dolls had been absent from store shelves, I assumed they had been discontinued. 
In 2009, while writing The Doll Blogs, my close friend and My Scene aficionado, informed me the dolls were still being manufactured.  What??? (I thought.)   "Why don't I see them in Toys R Us, Walmart, and other stores?" I asked.  She informed me of the following, which is recorded on page 282 in The Doll Blogs:



...My Scene dolls have chiefly been sold in Europe since 2006.  However, each year 10 new dolls are offered at limited locations in the United States.  These locations include Big Lots, K-Mart, and Family Dollar stores.  I did not realize the dolls that I have seen in Family Dollar and Big Lots during the past two to three years were actually newly released dolls.  I incorrectly assumed the dolls at Big Lots and Family Dollar were overstock of “discontinued” My Scene dolls.  While the dolls have not been discontinued, as I formerly thought, they are extremely hard to find in the United States.  As a result of their dearth, many online sellers, set prices two to four times that of the dolls’ retail.  I also discovered that America’s version of Madison is named Westley in Europe. I added Fab Faces to my collection because of her facial mechanism.  The doll is described by the manufacturer as having “innovative, one-of-a-kind movable face feature that allows girls to create five different expressions on the dolls' faces—from frowns to smirks and smiles! Each doll comes with a super glam, ultra stylish lace and glitter dress and her outfit is topped off with accessories no diva can live without—a furry boa, a sparkling tiara, and glittering jewelry!”   Photograph courtesy of the Internet.
Fab Faces' facial expressions and back buttons that active these

As illusrated on the back of the box, depressing one of the five separate buttons on Fab Faces' back will change the facial expression.  She pouts while frowning, looks slightly surprised, looks startled, raises her eyebrows and the corner of her mouth, and smiles.

Growing Up Glam My Scene Madison (box date 2006)
In 2009, Growing Up Glam Madison was on my friend's wish list for her granddaughter.  She was unwilling to pay the exorbitant amounts many eBay sellers were asking.  So I offered to help her find this "interesting" doll. Interesting, why?  Because with the turn of the dial in her back, Madison grows from 10 to 12 inches tall and gets "curvy," the term Mattel used on the box to describe the breasts the doll develops in her taller state.  The doll also has color change makeup.  Not even aware of the controversy this doll had sparked among some parents who were not very happy about a tween doll that transforms into a teen... with breasts (oh no!), I wanted one for myself. What a blessing (I thought), when I found two Growing Up Glams in an online Australian auction for $25 each in April 2010.  Disappointment set in after an initial month's wait for the dolls led to two, which led to three and a half months before the dolls finally arrived in August 2010!

My Scene Westley Cafe Chic, not sold in America

My Scene Westley Goes Hollywood, not sold in America

By February 2011, with the separate arrivals of Westley Goes Hollywood (box date 2005) and Cafe Chic Westley (box date 2007), the "gotta have 'em" My Scene Madison and Westley mission was accomplished.  These final two traveled from the United Kingdom to America in less than two weeks' time after their separate transactions were completed.   Take notes Australia Post!

Within the past year, I thought about finding new homes for my My Scene dolls, Madison #1 and #2, Growing Up Glam, Fab Faces, and the two Westleys (Cafe Chic and Going Hollywood).  The thought was only temporary, especially now that Close Friend confirmed the dolls' are no longer available in any market, domestic or global.  Their eight-year lifespan ended in 2010.

My Scene Doll Links
D7ana's My Scene Jai
http://www.manbehindthedoll.com/my_scenemain.htm
http://www.freewebs.com/cottonsprite/listofdolls.htm
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/My_Scene


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Sunday, May 20, 2012

I Want One Just Like Me - UK Doll Event


I had the pleasure of "meeting" Ama Gueye after visiting her Operation Sankofa website where a celebration of black dolls and black heritage takes place. I enjoyed reading Ama's personal quest to seek knowledge about her heritage and viewing the gallery, especially the images of Dolly and her dolls.

Ama's upcoming black doll event is what connected us. While I am not able to attend this London, England event, I offered to share information about it here. Spreading the word about the celebration and appreciation for the need of black dolls anywhere, anytime, and in any form is one of the things I enjoy doing.



Operation Sankofa
Presents
the Fourth Event
Celebrating Black Dolls
When:  Saturday, May 26, 2012
Where:  The Brix, St. Matthews Church
Brixton Hill
London SW@ 1JF
Telephone:  0207 738 6604
Adults - £5
6-16 years £3
Under 5 - Free
Time:  2:30 PM - 6:30 PM


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Friday, May 18, 2012

Mass Blogger Interview - My Answers - Images/Links Added


I am a little late in answering Ms. Leo's Mass Blogger Interview questions due to circumstances beyond my control that have been consuming much of my free time.  These circumstances are still ongoing, but I wanted to take the time to participate in this interview.  Ms. Leo's great questions and my answers regarding my doll-collecting enthusiasm are as follows:


When did you start collecting dolls?  I began collecting dolls for myself in 1991.  Subconsciously, I began collecting black dolls through those purchased for my daughter during the late 1970s into the 1980s.

I ordered this "cookie cutter" porcelain doll by Princess House, which was supposed to be a gift for my daughter's upcoming 13th birthday and kept the doll for myself after it arrived.  Jessica is my first doll purchase as a collector.

What was your first purchase as a collector My first doll purchase was a mass-produced porcelain doll by Princess House named Jessica.


Me, circa 1997 (after collecting only six years, I had already amassed an enormous amount of dolls).

How many dolls do you own?  I refrain from disclosing the exact number of dolls I own because honestly, if my life depended on it, I could not answer this question with accuracy.  I do know that the number is in the four digits.


Portrait dolls of my grandsons at their ages 7 and 2-1/2 by Ping Lau, photograph courtesy of the artist.  I have since added socks and shoes to the dolls' bare feet.

If I might add a third favorite doll, I would choose the reborn doll made in the likeness of my 1st grandson when he was 2.

What is your favorite doll and why?  I have two favorite dolls because they are portrait dolls of my grandsons that capture their appearance at ages 2 and 11, respectively. 



What doll or dolls are not your favorites and why?  I do not like porcelain dolls because they are breakable. 


What is the biggest challenge about collecting dolls?  I only collect black dolls that adequately portray dark skinned people.  This is often challenging when new doll lines exclude dolls of color and when the dark skinned doll is just a darkened version of the white counterpart.  An adequately represented dark skinned doll should include full facial features and authentically textured hair.


How do you display or store your dolls?  I have one room that is devoted to my dolls.  The dolls are displayed on built-in shelves, free-standing shelves, and other furnishings.  A few of my dolls are displayed in another room (or two), but the majority of my collection is confined to the doll room.  The majority of my dolls are freely displayed (outside their original boxes or shippers). Some vintage era dolls remain in their boxes as I find the boxes are part of the doll's historical significance.  The only dolls that are stored are those that I plan to sell.  These are stored in an open rubber bin inside a closet.  (Click here for a slideshow of my doll room as it was in 2003.)


Have you ever been to a doll show?  I have attended several doll shows as a patron and exhibitor.  As a patron, I have found that few shows in my area include the types of dolls I collect.  I have traveled to other states to doll shows, such as Pennsylvania to attend the annual Memorial Day weekend Philadelphia Black Doll Show, but traveling to doll shows is no longer part of my agenda.  (Click here to view a slideshow of past doll shows and exhibits as an attendee and exhibitor.)

When you travel, do you look for dolls?  Yes.  When I travel or whenever I am out and about, I constantly look for the types of dolls I collect.


What is your latest purchase?  The Only Hearts Club Big Sister-Li’l Sister Kayla Rae and Sydney doll set, found deeply discounted at Marshalls, is my latest doll purchase.

What doll is on your wish list now?  An authentic doll by Leo Moss remains at the top of my wish list.

What do you wish you didn’t purchase?  I wish I had never purchased any porcelain dolls.  However, if this were true, I would not be a doll collector.

What is your favorite doll related item?  My favorite doll-related item is doll clothing.  As a routine, I do not create dioramas, vignettes, or videos with my dolls.  I am an “old school” collector who enjoys dolls and documenting their existence.  An occasional redress suffices to fulfill my “doll play” desires.

How often do you [photograph] your dolls and what doll is the most photographed and/or photogenic?  Currently, I photograph my dolls at least three times weekly.  My doll picture taking is usually associated with my current blog posts.  In addition, I always photograph new dolls for my personal documentation.  During the time I was writing my three doll books, my dolls were photographed as often as daily.  None of my dolls are photographed more than others and none have been established as the most photogenic.

Do you talk to other collectors in person or just on the web?  Usually I network with other collectors on the Internet as I am not affiliated with any local doll clubs or organizations and have not met anyone locally who shares my passion for black dolls.

If you had the chance to speak to Mattel or other toy makers, what
would you say?


To doll makers in general, I would say:






A.   Beauty, people, and doll lovers are not confined to one ethnic group.  Because of this and because dolls are three-dimensional, inanimate representations of people, I would urge doll makers to create inclusive doll lines that adequately portray people of all ethnicities.  Children and adults of African, Asian, biracial, and Hispanic descent desire dolls that reflect their image.  Many collectors also enjoy creating diverse collections that represent society as a whole.  When doll lines are limited to only one or two ethnic groups, the doll community is underserved, specifically people of color. 

 

B.   I would suggest routine development of doll focus groups comprised of culturally diverse doll consumers to aid in creating marketable dolls and associated products.


C.  Utilize a diversified group of doll artists to sculpt dolls representative of the artists' respective ethnicities.



D.   I would like to see manufactured a multi-articulated dark skinned doll that includes interchangeable head sculpts and wigs. 


To Mattel, specifically regarding Barbie and her family of dolls, I would say, please either add more than one head sculpt for the dark skinned, play line friend of Barbie or change the friend’s head sculpt annually.  Even though these dolls are designed for little girls who may or may not notice your overuse of the same head sculpt, this practice has become quite redundant for adult collectors who incorporate play line dolls into their doll families.  In addition to new head sculpts, more articulated dolls with less anorexic-looking physiques would also be appreciated.  I worry about impressionable little girls who may perceive the super thin, Fashionista body style as realistic, when it is not.  A dark skinned Fashionista male is also needed.  In the area of clothing and accessories, I would like to see more classic and casual, Fashion Avenue-style outfits and accessories and less shorter-than short, trendy style clothing.   

To Spin-Master, the manufacturers of LIV dolls, I would say:
I am sorry you have chosen to discontinue the LIV dolls.  Their combined articulation and pose-ability was a great concept.  Perhaps you should rethink this decision and consider revising the line with heads that are proportionately sized for the body, add realistically sculpted hands, correctly inset eyes to improved the dolls’ aesthetic appeal, and then return them to market. 


What doll do you wish would be reissued?  Mattel has reissued Black Francie once; a second reissue with an articulated body would be nice.  I would also love to see the return of PopLife Christie or a similar “mod” era doll. 


What two dolls would you combine and how would you want them
combined? (Muff style question)
   I would combine the So In Style body(habitus/shape/physique) with the pivotal movement and articulation of PopLifeChristie to create a fuller figured fashion doll with increased pose-ability. 


Additional information about my black-doll enthusiasm can be read here.

dbg

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Thursday, May 17, 2012

Moving to AZ Doll Sale


One of my doll friends, Bonnie L., is relocating to Arizona and needs to sell most of her extensive doll collection.  I offered to share her lists of dolls here to help her find new homes. 

The dolls listed below are from the first list of dolls for sale that Bonnie has created.  If interested in anything; or if you need additional information or would like pictures, please contact Bonnie directly by clicking here (zuricat@verizon.net).  She will only ship to US addresses and will only accept Paypal payments

**********
Postage is extra and will be determined depending according to desired speed of shipment:  priority, parcel post, and insurance and destination.
 
  1. Ashton Drake's Jasmine at 1 1/2(*); 26": $75
  2. Himstedt's (*) Fatou(loose eyelashes):  $150
  3. Himstedt's(*) Pemba:  $100
  4. Himstedt's(*) Sanga:  $100
  5. Tiny Terry Lee(*): Benji & Bonnie Lou, 10" (walkers?):  $100 for the pair
  6. Terry Lee(*):  Bonnie Lou Sunday Best; 15":  $100
  7. Big Beautiful Doll; Dasia (first full-figured fashion doll):  $25
  8. American Girl "Dolls of many Lands" by Helen Kish & their books:  Minuk (Inuit), Spring Pearl (Chinese), Neela (East Indian), Saba (Ethiopian)  $20/each
  9. Ping Lau Heart & Soul, 8" Kiri (African), Sarina (East Indian), Shao-Hui (Chinese), resin:  $10/each
  10. Madame Alexander Ethiopia; 8":  $25
  11. Madame Alexander Africa #523; 8":  $25
  12. 12" all cloth Grandma & Grandpa dolls, (real cute), jointed; GM is knitting; GP has a pipe to smoke. Grey & white hair (yarn), glasses:$  20 for the pair  (must go together!)
  13. Aborigine toddlers $60/pair
  14. 8" AA boy & girl Kewpie dolls: $10/each, vinyl
  15. 12" Cameo AA Kewpie vinyl girl doll:  Special 90th Anniversary doll; very cute:  $25
Dolls with an asterisk (*), if sold, will come with a free extra small doll or jointed stuffed bear of Bonnie's choosing.

**********

Disclaimer:  Bonnie is a several-year member of my online doll group.  I have purchased collectibles from her in the past and was very pleased with the condition of the items and the speed at which they were received.  However, any transactions made as a result of this post will remain between buyer and seller. 


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Wednesday, May 16, 2012

New S.I.S. Dolls with Articulation Coming Soon



I saw these images at ImageShack.  Kara and Kianna are in the first image.  Grace and Courtney (shown above in the second image) were first shared here.   I have not found an image of articulated Trichelle and Zahara.  I suppose we can still expect Fall/Winter 2012 release.

Photos courtesy of: 
ImageShack® - Online Photo and Video Hosting

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Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Upcoming Cali and Philly Doll Events


Los Angeles, California Event:
(Click the two images above to enlarge)
Make My Doll
Saturday May 19, 2012
3:00 p.m. to 6 p.m. PDT
Cultural Interiors
5573 West Pico Blvd.
Los Angeles, CA 90019



Philadelphia, Pennsylvania Event:


(Click above image to enlarge)
23rd International Black Doll Show and Sale
Saturday, May 26, 2012
10:00 a.m. - 5:00 p.m. EDT
$7.00 adult
Seniors and Children $5.00
Pennsylvania Convention Center
12th and Arch Streets
Philadelphia, PA
"the largest & best showcase and sale of black dolls in the nation"



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Saturday, May 12, 2012

The Blessings of Grandmothers and Mothers

Mattel's Happy Family Grandma, 2003

Happy Family Grandma entered my collection in February 2011, as a secondary market, Amazon.com purchase.  I am still in search of Happy Family Grandma's counterpart -- Happy Family Grandpa. Until one surfaces for a decent price, Grandma will remain single.

In 2001, I became a grandmother... never even imagined I would see that day.  Me, a grandmother?  (At 45) I'm too young to be a grandmother, I thought, when I learned of my daughter's first pregnancy.   I don't look like a grandmother, but after the redheaded bundle of joy arrived, I wholeheartedly embraced the title.  The process repeated itself in 2006.  My two grandsons are pure blessings -- they give unconditional love and of course receive it tenfold from me and my husband, particularly my husband.  Granddaddy is their super hero. 

The closest person to a breathing grandmother in my life was my brothers' grandmother (I have two older brothers who are actually half siblings, but in our household they were my brothers... period).  It was not until I was about 6 or 7 when I learned our biological fathers were not one in the same.    "He must be your stepbrother," was said to me by a neighborhood kid after learning one of my older brothers was my brother.  "Your last names are different," the precocious child said.  All I knew was that my daddy was Daddy to all five of us; and according to my mother, when I questioned her about my new discovery, "All of y'all came out of me! There-are-no-steps-here!"  That ended that discussion.   

Sweetie, is what most people  (even the neighborhood children) called her (and that's what she called us).  And she was sweet... one of the sweetest women in her age group that I knew as a child.  My mother's former mother-in-law remained a mother figure to her and became a grandmother figure for me.  During the summer of my preteen years, I spent some nights with Sweetie.  As a younger child, she took me to work with her once where I witnessed her perform light domestic duties for "Ms. Lila," whom she met at the Highland Park Country Club where she worked.  Ms. Lila had also employed Sweetie to host occasional parties at her home and perform other light domestic duties for her there.  She, Ms. Lila, lived in Highland Park (where former President Bush now resides).  

Sweetie adored her biological grandsons (my brothers) with the youngest of the two being her favorite.  That was her way.  She was sweet to all of us, but she always had her  favorites among pairs.  Between my sister and me, Robin was her favorite.  In her defense, I would have chosen Robin, too.  Until her passing during my early twenties, Sweetie served well as my stand-in grandmother.

B. Barrow Evans, my maternal grandmother circa 1st quarter of 1900s
My maternal grandmother -- B. Barrow Evans is shown above.  She was described as a very strong-willed woman.  In the 1930 US census, she is further described by the census taker as a laundress.  According to my mother, "Madda"  never worked outside the home.  She gave birth to six and died shortly after my mother's youngest sibling was born.  My mother was in her teens at the time.
 
An Old Fashioned Girl Jody by Ideal, 1975
An unclear image of my paternal grandmother, Mollie Lewis Behan, is my only visual of her.  She was described as a brown-skinned woman with long, black hair.  She passed away when my father was only two.   In doll world, I see her image in Ideal's Old Fashioned Girl, Jody (pictured above), but with fuller facial features.


Mama and siblings during 1970s (back row, 2nd from left); her sister, Betty, is seated next to Mama (back row, 2nd from right).
My Mother -- the middle girl of three, was named after her mother.  I think my grandmother's oldest daughter, Betty, looks more like my maternal grandmother than my mother.  Mama is shown in the above 1970s image taken at Missy's house (my Aunt Betty) where the family would usually gather on Sundays after church for Missy's home cooked meals and any covered dishes other family members brought.  On the day the above picture was taken, Mama's younger sister, Ann (seen on the first row), was visiting from California, which is probably why the siblings were present that day at Missy's house.


Mama, late 1940s/early 1950s

During one of my last visits to Sweetie's home with my two, then young children in tow, I asked Sweetie if I could "borrow" the above image of my mother that I had admired each time I visited Sweetie.  From as far back as I could remember, that picture of Mama had been at Sweetie's house.  After my broken promise to return it to her after I made copies, Sweetie reluctantly allowed me to borrow the photograph of the woman who served as a daughter figure to her.  I made copies of it for my four siblings and kept the original, which continues to hang on a wall in my den.  I was not able to return it to Sweetie before she passed away suddenly in her home in the late 1980s.

Mama, 2010

On this Mother's Day, I am thankful for Sweetie and for the two grandmothers I never knew. I am also thankful for my mother who is still here with me.  I appreciate her sacrifices, her love, and for blessing me and others with her presence for 85 years.  Had it not been for my grandmothers and my mother, I would not be a daughter, a mother, and now a grandmother myself.

Happy Mother's Day! 

dbg

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Thursday, May 10, 2012

May 10, Abolition of Slavery Commemoration

In France, May 10 commemorates the abolition of slavery as a Day of Remembrance
Photo courtesy of Poupées Des Tropiques

 
I love learning and sharing what I have learned here about the dolls I love.  One of my Facebook friends Poupées Des Tropiques from France shared the following (translated by Bing from French to English):

May 10 is the "national day of memory of trafficking, slavery and its abolition" since 2006 in France.  May 10 "honors the memory of slaves and commemorates the abolition of slavery." France is the first and remains the only state that to date has declared the slave trade and slavery "crime against humanity."  It is also the only state that has declared a national day of remembrance. May 10, referred to [as] the statement of Delgres in 1802, and also marks the day of the unanimous adoption by the Senate, in the second and final reading of the 2001 law recognizing the slave trade and slavery as a crime against humanity. Moreover, in the metropolis, particular attention is paid to the date of May 23.  This day reminds one [first] of the official abolition of slavery in 1848 and, secondly, of the silent march of 23 May 1998, which contributed to the national debate leading to the vote of May 21, 2001, recognizing slavery as a crime against humanity. Many associations of the French overseas living in metropolitan commemorate that date as the memory of the suffering of slaves. DOLLS OF THE TROPICS is also associated with this day with [its] "dolls of slavery."
Learn and see more at the following links:
http://www.poupeesdestropiques.com/Poupees_des_Tropiques/Les_poupees_de_lesclavage.html
http://www.njclc.com/france.htm
http://ambafrance-us.org/IMG/pdf/nff/NFF1104.pdf

Thank you, Poupées Des Tropiques, for enlightening me and for allowing me to share your materials.

dbg

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Tuesday, May 8, 2012

DOC Image Captures

Background Dolls:  Robert Tonner's Far Out Friday and Russell Williams
Foreground Dolls:  Barbie repaint by Chynadoll Creations and my salt and pepper-wigged Adele Makeda by Integrity Toys
Kevin von Duuglas-Ittu, Director of Social Medial for Tonner Dolls, Inc., recently informed me of Tonner's, Dolls of Color  (DOC) board on Pinterest.  Check it out

Thanks to Kevin, I enjoyed viewing a CerebralMadness Youtube video of stills featuring several beautiful fashion dolls of color.  Included are dolls by Tonner, Mattel, Integrity and others.  Many of the featured dolls are repaints or have undergone other special touches to make them one of a kind.  Click the play button below to enjoy.  (This video is also pinned to Tonner's DOC board on Pinterest.)


Thanks again Kevin for sharing these and similar DOC sightings with me. 

dbg

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Monday, May 7, 2012

The Body That Didn't Sell is Now Ken's

The TTL Toy City T30.B dark brown body that I placed on eBay after discovering it would not fit my Michael Jordan #2 head did not sell. 

To relist or not to relist was the question.  Before making a decision about relisting, I removed the head from Bath Play Fun Ken (seen on the far right at the previous link).  Using the larger of the two connectors that came with the body in question, I was pleasantly surprised that Ken's head fit well enough for me to use on this body.  To improve the fit, I lined the lower-inner portion of the head with double-sided tape before attaching it to the neck of the body. 

The next question in my head was, "Will the clothing fit?"  Bath Play Fun Ken had been redressed in Ken Fashionistas Fashion #T7488 several months ago.  Pleased again, I discovered the fashion fits the body.

Ken's sneakers being softened in a cup of boiled water

In order for the black/white checkered slip-on shoes to fit the wider-than-Ken's feet of the new body, I had to soften them in a cup of boiled water.  With that accomplished, Ken was rebodied, fully dressed, and ready to move around at last.
Bath Play Fun Ken's head on TTL T30.B body


Ken is very pleased with his new body and now finds his original one quite laughable. 

dbg

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Saturday, May 5, 2012

MJ #2 Gets Bodied and Suited

Michael Jordan head by Cian placed on TTL T2.0C body

The correct body for the Cian Michael Jordan head arrived yesterday (TTL T2.0C dark brown).  The head did not fit as far down on the socket of the body as I'd like.  So I dipped the neck of the head in a cup of boiled water for 30 seconds.  This process loosened the vinyl enough for me to force the head onto the socket for a proper fit.

Initial head-body improper fit

Head-body fit after dipping head in boiled water for 30 seconds

A wrinkled (possibly in travel) black men's (not for real people) suit ensemble, which includes, white shirt, neck tie, belt, socks, and shoes, arrived earlier this week.

Thank goodness the suit is in playscale because I do not like to iron.  Asking my husband to iron it for me got laughs and the comment, "I can't believe you're asking me to iron a doll's suit when I have suits that need ironing."  I realize my damsel in distress role does not work well for things he knows I can do myself, but this does not prevent me from exercising my motto of "it never hurts to ask."

I asked; he refused; so I ironed it myself. 


Next, due to difficulty in getting MJ's shoes on with his socks, I boiled more water and dipped the shoes in it for a few seconds to soften the vinyl. 

Donned in shirt, tie, pants, belt, socks, and shoes, he poses quite well. 

In the absence of a tie tack or clip to hold the two ends of his tie in place, double-sided tape is sandwiched between the two ends.


Michael Jordan by Cian poses with Head Play's Michael Jordan, who wants to know why this guy is attempting to impersonate him.

Fully dressed, MJ #2 looks quite handsome with his new body and suit, even if he doesn't really look like Michael Jordan.  Later on, he and the real Michael Jordan may swap outfits.   

dbg

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Thursday, May 3, 2012

She's Got Grace Jones Eyes

Readers are referred to this post where I used a brown Sharpie to change my doll's orange pupils brown.  In that post I mentioned the possibility of darkening the sclerae of her eyes, but decided to leave almost well enough alone.

This morning, still bothered by the abundant "whites" of her eyes and caricature look, I colored the outer white area tan using a Sharpie.   This left a normal amount of sclerae.

Next, I pierced her ears and added hoop earrings.  The gem stones at the top of the earrings had faded.  I used iced copper fingernail polish to revive the color.  Her neck scarf is now a headwrap. 

My doll looks better to me now and, while not at all androgynous looking, she reminds me of Grace Jones.  

Jungle Fever (JF) from the Monsieur Z line by Jason Wu for Integrity Toys has new, Grace Jones-looking eyes.

I keep picturing Grace Jones as Strangé in the movie, Boomerang  (pronounced Stron-jay, for the benefit of those who have not seen the movie).

More Grace Jones images can be seen here.

What do you think about  JF's new eyes compared to the way they were originally?

dbg

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Tuesday, May 1, 2012

I Might Need a Head

I purchased this TTL T3.0C body based on color alone.  The initial plan was to use it for the second Michael Jordan head I purchased (one like Ms. Leo has). 

I never thought to check the neck construct until several days after purchasing this body in a free-shipping, buy-it-now auction from a Hong Kong seller.   Since I do not have a head to fit this body and because I do not want to incur return-to-Hong-Kong shipping expense,  I placed the body on eBay in hopes that someone else can use it.

Michael Jordan (doesn't really look like him to me; but I like the sculpt)

In the event the TTL T3.0C body does not sell, does anyone know of a head in dark brown skin tone, or around the same complexion as the Michael Jordan head shown above, that will fit this body? 

Thanks in advance!

dbg

(A body that will fit MJ is in transit).


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